Will, Outbound to Hungary

Hi everyone! This past month has been absolutely amazing! The weekend after I published my last blog, I went on a Rotary trip to Vienna with the other exchange students. It was so much fun! Vienna is very underrated in my opinion. It was so beautiful, especially the old buildings and my favorite part, the Schönbrunn Palace, which I found similar to Versailles. We also had free time with the other exchange students, which was fun because we got really good food and just walked around at our own pace. The first night we went to the opera. While it was a little confusing because the whole thing was in German and there wasn’t a very good English translation, we were able to appreciate the quality of the singing and beautiful set design. The last night we spent in the Hungarian border city of Sopron. While I had already been to Sopron, this was really cool because we went with the local Rotary to the historic pan-european picnic site, which was where people fled communism and risked everything to cross into Austria. It was really interesting to see the old “iron curtain” including the remnants of the border fence and the abandoned, overgrown guard towers. It was really surreal considering how easy it is to travel within Europe today. I went back to school for my first full week in what had seemed like forever. I had just been so busy between language camp, Prague, and Vienna! It was nice to see my friends and keep practicing my Hungarian. Now I’m in a beginners chemistry class which is really enjoyable. A few weeks of school passed, then we had the October break, which was a whole week off, sort of like our Thanksgiving holiday in November. On the first Saturday, the exchange students met at a Rotary tree planting in Szentendre, just north of Budapest. We learned some Hungarian cooking skills as well, which was really fun. Afterwards, I went to Budapest with some exchange friends. It was cool to walk around the city, especially seeing the Parliament which is really stunning. I went with my host sister again 4 days later, which was also a lot of fun. But by far, the best part of that break was second half, because my host family took me to Paris! We flew very early Thursday morning, and we had an Airbnb with a view of the Eiffel tower! It was such a fun trip. We met with one of my host sister’s friends from her exchange year in America, and he was really nice. My favorite part was Saturday morning when we woke up super early and went to Trocadero square in front of the Eiffel tower to take pictures. There was nobody there and it was really cool to watch the sunrise and to get some great photos. The food in Paris was also really good, with the croissants and baguettes for breakfast, as well as the macarons and hot chocolate. That trip was one of the best trips I’ve ever been on. While I had to go back to school last week, I have a lot to look forward to. Tomorrow I’m going to Budapest because my host mom has work and offered to take me. Soon, I’ll have spent 3 months in Hungary which means that I can travel throughout the country independently. I’m excited for this because it will be fun to see new cities and visit the other exchange students. These past several weeks have been fantastic, and I’m excited for what’s to come!

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